for Sunday, January 1, 2017
On this first day of every year, we remember Mary, Mother of God, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church. And we begin the year blessing God for all of His goodness for us. May this New Year of 2017 bring many blessings to all of us and to our world.
The first reading today is from the book of Numbers. It helps us remember how to bless one another by reminding us of how God asked Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel: "The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!" O that we would pray for one another in the same way all of the time! If we could relate to every other person by asking God's blessing on that person, our world would be changed instantly. Gone would be the desire for war and for revenge. Gone would be the hatred of one another. Gone would be all that divides us-if we truly prayed for the good of one another and for blessings on one another.
The second reading comes from the Letter to the Galatians and gives us the reason to pray for one another: we are all adopted children of God. But so often we do not remember that we are all sisters and brothers in Christ, in God. Instead, we treat one another as strangers and as competitors. Instead of helping one another, we take away from one another. This first day of the year reminds us that we are all in this together and that we help ourselves by helping one another and we damage ourselves when we fight one another.
The Gospel today is from Saint Luke and is about the naming of Jesus and the circumcision of Jesus, showing that Jesus is truly human like us in all things except sin. Jesus is truly God and truly man. We are invited to imitate Mary and to ponder Jesus in our hearts so that we can understand Him and be formed by Him. Today we have many ways of naming new children. Naming is an important aspect of the life of a new child and should be seen as an important event in a life. A male child born in the Jewish culture of the time of Jesus received his name at the time of his circumcision and circumcision took place eight days after birth. This is part of the story of Jesus which is particular to his culture. Remember the naming of John the Baptist, when the people would not believe that Elizabeth could give him the name "John" because there were no relatives with that name. But when Zechariah was asked, he wrote "John is his name."
So today we celebrate an event in the life of Jesus our Lord, when He is given His name. We celebrate the motherhood of Mary. We celebrate Mary as our Mother and Mother of the Church because she is the Mother of Jesus and thus Mother of God. Let us place this New Year under her maternal protection and strive to live as her Son lived, seeking only the will of the Father.
"The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!"
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Numbers 6.22-27
Second Reading: Galatians 4.4-7
Gospel: Luke 2.16-21
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: